The natural reaction when there is a fire is to just grab a fire extinguisher and try to douse the flames, but is this always going to be the right thing to do? Well, it actually depends on what type of fire it is. You might think that all fires are the same, but there are actually 5 different classifications of fires, and often they need different methods of extinguishing.

Type A fires are regular fires from wood and wood based materials. Most fire extinguishers will be effective against such a fire. Type B fires are from liquids like gas, oil or grease. They will actually get worse if you were to use a water based extinguisher on them. Type C fires are electrical, and shouldn’t be extinguished with any extinguisher that uses a conductive material, since this could cause you to receive an electrical shock. You are unlikely to ever encounter a type D fire unless you work in a lab that deals with combustible metals, such as magnesium and potassium. Type K fires are usually encountered in kitchens and burn in vegetable oils or animal fats.

You should make sure that any fire extinguisher you have is rated to extinguish the type of fire you are most likely to encounter.